The popularity of sporting events around the globe is propelling two industries forward more than ever. Online gambling platforms and video streaming services are directly impacted by big sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, NBA finals, and European Championships. Year on year, these events attract peak player numbers and skyrocketing concurrent viewership figures.
This year’s Indian Premier League, for instance, resulted in record-breaking simultaneous stream counts for the event’s official digital streaming partner, JioCinema. Likewise, betting on the Super Bowl this year set records for sportsbooks with 100 million sports betting transactions completed and FanDuel reporting peaks of 50,000 bets made per minute.
The sports betting market has become a mainstay of the online gambling sector and online sports streaming is showing signs of a similar trajectory. With traditional TV sports broadcasting experiencing rapidly declining viewership rates, sports fans are swiftly migrating to video streaming services and dedicated online sports streaming platforms.
In this blog post we delve into the reasons why sports have become so important for these sectors and the extent to which their success relies upon it.
The sports betting market has become an indispensable asset for the online gambling industry, comprising a dominant 49% share of online gambling revenue. One contributing factor is the changing regulatory landscape in the U.S where the legalization of sports betting has fast outpaced the legalization of online casino games.
To date, sports betting is legal and operational across 33 states, with mobile sports betting legal in 26 states. By contrast, only seven states have legalized online casinos. These deflated numbers are most likely the result of lawmaker hesitancy fueled by a lack of familiarity with online casinos (in comparison to wagering and betting).
Regardless, the acceleration of sports betting legalization is no doubt reinforcing the importance of sporting events for the industry at large.
An alternative to traditional sporting events, esports is another driver of engagement both for the online gambling and streaming sectors. These organized multiplayer video game events have soared to prominence over the last three years and the format continues to enjoy sustained popularity.
According to market forecasts the global esports betting market will be worth almost 24 billion by 2028. Testament to the format’s success, more operators including Betway, FanDuel, DraftKings, WilliamHill, Bet365, LeoVegas, and Pinnacle have chosen to integrate esports betting into their product offerings.
Likewise, esports has created new opportunities for online sports streaming platforms. In fact, the world’s leading esports company, ESL FACEIT Group recently announced that it would be making its tournament live streams available across multiple streaming platforms including Twitch and YouTube.
The competition between video streaming platforms is rife. It’s coined the term ‘streaming wars’ for a reason. The market is saturated with streaming services and online sports streaming is proving to be a valuable differentiator. More and more streaming platforms have started using live online sports streaming to retain existing audiences and attract new subscribers.
Last year Apple acquired global media rights over Major League Soccer (MLS), Paramount+ won U.S. rights to UEFA, Amazon to the Champions League in the UK, and Discovery to the Olympics in Europe. Even Netflix, which has historically taken a firm stance against online sports streaming on its platform, was in talks about acquiring media rights to the Formula One. Though ultimately unsuccessful (Netflix lost out to ESPN), it goes to show just how valuable an asset sporting events are for streaming platforms.
Speaking to the Drum, Sports Marketing and Communications Specialist, Dan Tunna sums it up perfectly: “Netflix is closer to taking that plunge that it ever has been before, just simply because it has never had that pressure before”.
Sporting events have proven a major asset for both the online gambling and streaming industries. The acceleration of sports betting legalization across the U.S. has turned sports and esports betting into a ripe opportunity. At the same time, sports betting’s growing popularity has also helped expand online sports streaming audiences.
According to American Gaming, more than a third of NFL fans say that the expansion of legal sports betting has made watching an NFL game more exciting. And in some cases, betting and live streaming have been consolidated. Sky Bet, for example, enables its players to watch sports live from their devices when placing a minimum bet.
Of course, for all its opportunities there are challenges too. As sports betting and online sports streaming grows in popularity, platforms must be ready to contend with higher levels of concurrent viewership and user rates – especially when big events come around.
But in reality, these challenges are a blessing more than a curse, indicative of the massive demand for sports-related content and the sustained importance of sporting events for each of these industries.